FFS_Logo_BLUE_croppedAs 2015 continues apace we have one final reflection on last year from the perspective of our supported charity for 2014, Fight for Sight, as Chief Executive Michele Acton gives an overview of what the partnership meant to them. It has been a pleasure!

2014 was quite a year for Fight for Sight and for eye research. Being the BIA charity gave us a huge boost. Our partnership kicked off to a great start with the charity being asked to present at the joint BIA and Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) Parliamentary Reception which highlighted how organisations from all sectors can work together to maximise benefits for patients.

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Michele Acton speaking at our parliamentary event with AMRC

Earlier that same day we were delighted that BIA member, Syncona LLP, announced a £12 million investment in Nightstar, a spin-out from the University of Oxford, focusing on developing and commercialising therapies for inherited eye diseases with the first program being a gene therapy for choroideremia.  Funding from the Tommy Salisbury Choroideremia Fund at Fight for Sight had led to the world’s first trial for a treatment for choroideremia. This Phase 1 trial showed promising results underpinning the new investment.

Our work to address inherited eye diseases was also the subject of a passionate talk at the annual BIA Gala Dinner at the Natural History Museum. Golf professional Mark Roberts, father to nine year old Rose who has Stargardt’s, spoke on behalf of Fight for Sight about the impact of the condition. BIA members responded so generously and raised a record breaking £31,000 for eye research.

Fight for Sight funds research with the aim of preventing and developing treatments for a wide range of different eye diseases and conditions. Towards the end of 2013 the Sight Loss and Vision Priority Setting Partnership was published. This highlights the key questions that patients and eye health professionals want answered by research. It helps us ensure that our funding is focussed on what is most important to those with experience of sight loss. During 2014 we worked with the NIHR Horizon Scanning team to develop a report on potential new treatments that are being developed across the world for inherited eye diseases. These were reported here in a BIA blog.

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Emma Salisbury speaking at the UK Bioscience Forum

At the UK Bioscience Forum in the autumn, we listened to a great speech by our Patron, Lord Drayson. We followed this with a tag team presentation which showed how inspirational individuals can work with charities to leverage further funding to take research from bench to bedside, using choroideremia as a case study. Those of you who attended will no doubt remember the inspirational Emma Salisbury whose fundraising was integral to the initial funding. As a mother of a son with choroideremia Emma is a passionate fundraiser who has just been named Tesco Achieving Mum of the Year.

Steve Bates and Michele Acton completing the Carrots Nightwalk

Steve Bates and Michele Acton completing the Carrots NightWalk

Our partnership throughout 2014 has meant so much. It has given us the opportunity of raising the profile of our work and the need for eye research amongst BIA members and beyond. We have built relationships that will continue long after the year has ended. We are so grateful for everybody’s generosity in raising funds and in going the extra mile in offering their advice and time…..this includes a big thank you to Steve Bates who went the extra 15 miles for us by being sponsored to walk in our Carrots NightWalk. We are very sorry to say goodbye as the charity of the year but wanted to thank you for giving us such a great platform to build upon. Please do follow our progress at www.fightforsight.org.uk.